Revive Railway Reform Bill, advocacy group tasks National Assembly

 

 

*Wants Kaduna-Kano rail line constructed

 

 

The new leadership of Nigerian National Assembly has been urged to revive and accelerate the passage of the Nigerian Railway Law Reform Bill which seeks to amend the outdated 1955 law establishing and regulating the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

A continental railway advocacy group ,African Railway Roundtable made the call on Sunday even as it called on President Muhammadi Buhari to immediately commence the construction of Kano-Kaduna railway line.

The position of the group was contained  in a statement  signed by its Chief Operating Officer, Segun Olanjorin.

The group called attention of the 9th assembly lawmakers to the Railway bill which was already passed by the last Senate but was not treated by the House of Representatives before the expiration of its tenure.

The bill in question has been in the National Assembly since 2016 and its non-passage is identified as one of the main impediment to smooth expansion and modernization of Nigerian railway system.

“The bill seeks to separate the operator from the regulator of the sector while also opening up the sector to private sector investment.  The bill allows for concession and outright private railroad under the regulation of the regulator. The bill in our view is the best way out of financial and funding challenges plaguing the rail industry.

“Nigeria has borrowed so much and this has become very unsustainable. Passing the bill into law now will energise the railway sector and put it on a strong footing at par with international best practice. We urge House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and the Senate President Ahmed Lawan to officially revive the bill. Nigeria cannot wait any longer”, the statement noted.

The group equally urged the Nigerian government to commence the execution of the proposed Kaduna-Kano rail line without further delay, tasking the government to deploy similar vigour to the Kaduna-Kano project in the same way it handled and fast-tracked the construction of Ibadan Lagos standard guage railway line.

“We start by commending President Muhammadu Buhari for reviving the railway sector. It was not a mean feat. We are particularly impressed with the almost completed Lagos -Ibadan Standard gauge. The economic viability of the route makes it sustainable .It is now time to extend the new standard line to Kano from Kaduna.

“Already, the Abuja -Kaduna line is about the most viable line currently. It will be a big boom if Kaduna is now linked to Kano by rail. The patronage of rail will tripple and viability in term of economic returns will be assured. It is therefore our considered view that commencing the project should be now and completion should be within the life span of this administration”, the statement noted.

While commending the management of the Nigerian Railway Corporation and the Federal Ministry of Transportation,the African group affirmed that “the Buhari presidency is the golden age of railway in Nigeria ,urging an even more ambitious push in term of trans-natiobal railway line.

“We are of the view that Nigeria should craft a trans-national railway agenda to link Adamawa to Cameroon, Lagos to Benin Republic, Oyo state to Benin Republic, Borno to Chad ,Cross River to Cameroon and Katsina to Niger Republic”, the group noted in the statement.